You wouldn't know it by the way he's played on Saturdays, but Leonard Williams is being held back from practice for much of the week.
The USC star defensive lineman, considered one of the top prospects in the nation as an underclassman, has dealt with both ankle and shoulder injuries this season. But from Williams' remarks to The Los Angeles Times, it certainly sounds as though coach Steve Sarkisian's staff has no concerns about Williams' ability to prepare on less physically taxing terms.
"I've been able to still go in the game and know exactly what's going on," Williams said.
Williams dealt with a high ankle sprain early in the season, which made him questionable prior to the Trojans' Sept. 6 win over Stanford. He not only played that day but excelled, piling up 11 tackles and delivering a late sack that helped seal the win. More recently, Williams has been dealing with shoulder problems, yet forced two fumbles in a loss to Utah last weekend. The athletic and versatile 300-pounder has not missed a game all season, and he ranks second on the team in tackles with 51. He's made six tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks, and has impressed scouts with his energy and hustle.
NFL Media analyst Daniel Jeremiah recently likened Williams to former NFL star Richard Seymour, and an AFC scout recently made the same comparison.
But looking that good on Saturdays apparently requires some diligent care during the week. Williams said he is in the trainers' room "as much as possible." With the lighter practice participation, the Trojans star can at least put in good time watching film and preparing mentally.
He's expected to play Saturday against Washington State.
And play well.